Equally Wed
Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling is Stayed
Published: Friday, 18 April 2014 14:29
Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling is Stayed

The Ohio gay marriage ruling has been stayed. Appeals will likely take months.

How to Get Legally Married in Vermont
Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 22:19
How to Get Legally Married in Vermont

All you need to know about getting legally married in Vermont!

How to Get Legally Married in Rhode Island
Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 21:44
How to Get Legally Married in Rhode Island

Same-sex couples can be legally married in Rhode Island. 

Patricia + Julissa: An Autumn Wedding Under the Texas Sun
Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 20:49
Patricia + Julissa: An Autumn Wedding Under the Texas Sun

Patricia and Julissa were married under the hot desert sun of the Texas landscape!

Oklahoma Marriage Equality Case Appealing to 10th Circuit
Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 18:15
Oklahoma Marriage Equality Case Appealing to 10th Circuit

The 10th Circuit is hearing arguments in the Oklahoma marriage equality case.

Under the Tux: Wedding Day Undergarments for Men
Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 17:09
Under the Tux: Wedding Day Undergarments for Men

Guys, it's not all about the tux. Wow your man with some fun unmentionables!

Barbie + Alexa: An Intimate Garden Wedding in DC
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 18:48
Barbie + Alexa: An Intimate Garden Wedding in DC

Barbie and Alexa decided to make their love legal on their 8-year anniversary!

Wednesday Wedding Song: All of Me by John Legend
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 08:00
Wednesday Wedding Song: All of Me by John Legend

John Legend's song All of Me touches me to my core every time I hear it, and that's why I'm choosing it as this week's Wednesday Wedding Song.

Ohio Marriage Ruling May Be Stayed
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:23
Ohio Marriage Ruling May Be Stayed

A federal judge is considering staying his recent ruling that same-sex marriage be recognized in the state.

Patrick + Arive: Celebrating 10 Years Together
Published: Tuesday, 15 April 2014 19:31
Patrick + Arive: Celebrating 10 Years Together

Patrick and Arive recently celebrated 10 years of love together.

kathleen-womack-lesbian-attorney-georgia

LGBT families across the country take many different forms. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to legally protecting our families. Several states currently allow same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnership registrations, or other forms of relationship recognition. Unfortunately, in the majority of our country, same-sex relationships are not legally recognized at all unless couples take action to seek protections through legal documents. It is best to consult with an attorney who practices law in the state where you live to get the most protection you can for your family.

The good news is that there are many steps we can take to provide protections similar to those enjoyed by our opposite-sex married counterparts.

The first step is to make sure you have the basic estate planning documents. A last will and testament, a durable financial power of attorney, and a health care document, which may be called a health care advance directive, medical proxy, health care power of attorney, or living will, depending on your state.

A last will and testament allows your partner to inherit all your property, and to be appointed by the court as your personal representative or executor. This means that when you die, your biological family has no legal right to show up with the moving van to take your personal property and lock your partner out of your home. 

Your will can also name your partner as guardian of your children if you are the only legal parent and your partner does not have rights as a second legal parent. Otherwise, the court in your state might name a biological family member instead of your partner as your children’s guardian. If you and your partner should die at the same time, you can set up a trust fund for your minor children and name someone you trust to be in charge of the children’s money, set limits on what the money should be used for, and specify when they should receive the balance of their trust funds. (Usually not age 18 when legally they are adults, but not yet equipped to handle money.)

A health care document allows you to name your partner or other close friend to be the primary person for hospital visitation and medical decision making authority, up to and including the decision to remove you from life support under certain medical conditions, and to handle your funeral wishes. Without this form, your biological family will be in charge of those decisions, and your partner may be excluded from your hospital room. No matter how “married” you consider you and your partner to be, even if you have lived together for 50 years, were married in Canada, or a state that allows same-sex marriage, if you live in a state that does not recognize same-sex unions from other states, without this piece of paper, you have no legal rights as a couple. 

But wait! You don’t have all your rights just by having this health care document signed. It doesn’t do you any good if it is sitting home in a drawer or in a safe deposit box. If an emergency strikes, you don’t want to waste valuable time running home to get your documents when you should be heading for the hospital. You must have it with you and available to show at the hospital. I always advise my clients to keep copies in the glove boxes of their cars, and to carry a copy in their carryon luggage if they travel together by airplane. A good rule of thumb is to expect discrimination, and be prepared for it by having your health care documents quickly available if a medical emergency arises.

A durable financial power of attorney allows you to appoint your partner to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to handle them for yourself. If you have joint bank accounts you would not need a power of attorney to write checks on that account, but if the mortgage is only in your partner’s name, the power of attorney gives you the authority to deal directly with the mortgage company on behalf of your incapacitated partner.

If you and your partner have minor children and only one of you is a “legal” parent, it is important to have a power of attorney for minor child drawn up as well, so that the legal parent can delegate authority to the other parent to take the child to the doctor, have access to the child’s medical records, pick the child up from school, and perform other day-to-day tasks of parenting.


Kathleen Womack is in her 26th year of practicing law in Georgia, with a focus on estate planning, domestic partner agreements and dissolutions, and second parent adoption. More information is available at www.kwomacklaw.com.

TRAVEL

Always Among Friends: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Always Among Friends: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Published: Friday, 21 February 2014 00:56

Many consider the island of St. John to be the jewel in the Caribbean crown. Affluent and tranquil, this tiny tropical paradise is only 13 miles long and four miles wide.

Glaciers, Humpbacks and Bears, Oh My: Honeymoon on an Alaskan Cruise
Glaciers, Humpbacks and Bears, Oh My: Honeymoon on an Alaskan Cruise
Published: Tuesday, 18 June 2013 19:11

Cruises serving the LGBT community have long been popular, but gay-friendly traveling options are widening as cruise lines increasingly welcome same-sex couples. 

Pocono Mountains Retreat: Mount Airy Casino Resort
Pocono Mountains Retreat: Mount Airy Casino Resort
Published: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 05:00

Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a picturesque honeymoon and wedding destination to gay, lesbian and allied couples alike.

ASK KIRSTEN Wedding Advice from our Editor

Our Families Don't Know We're Queer or Our Gender Identification and We're Getting Married
Our Families Don't Know We're Queer or Our Gender Identification and We're Getting Married
Published: Tuesday, 08 April 2014 05:00

As we approach our engagement party where our families will meet our partner for the first time, as well as each other, we are feeling really nervous that they will be uncomfortable and confused.